Delegate This!

My eleventh game is finally out, and it’s playable here. Delegate This! is my ninth #onegameamonth game, and it is a spiritual sequel to Don’t Get Fired!, my first (and most popular on GameJolt) game for #onegameamonth.

In Delegate This!, you take on the role of Johnson, button-pushing employee recently promoted to manager. Experience the boredom and mundanity of office life from the comfort of your own home! Ew, no. Never mind. That’s a bad pitch. You have to manage your branch of the company for an entire month, in real time! Well, 1/60th of real time, anyway. Which is still incredibly slow. All you have to do is meet the demands of corporate, and you’ll be a star! Spend your more than ample time deciding who to hire, who to fire, how much to pay everyone, and where to put all the buttons… or just by micromanaging your employees and driving them crazy. Just make sure everything stays on track so that you don’t get fired when the month runs out.

In behind-the-scenes business, this one nearly killed me (metaphorically, of course). I got really behind on it (due in part to motivation problems, and in part to this being a busy month for me) and then had to go overtime in the final week, which is a bad plan in general and a worse plan when the final week is a really busy one for other reasons. Since time was running short, I skimped on a lot of things that I just know are going to drive me crazy when I look back at this game in the future. There may even be serious unfixed bugs. I don’t think so, but I didn’t have time to thoroughly test this one (because it’s so long). If you find a bug, please drop a comment below and let me know about it. I can’t guarantee I’ll fix it (since I have other games to work on), but I’ll try. I’d hate to leave deal-breaking bugs in there. Please note that the ugly buttons and menus aren’t a bug, just a terrible disappointment to me personally. All in all, though, I think the game turned out alright. And there’s one new feature I’m particularly happy with: multiple save files. How nostalgic!

9 thoughts on “Delegate This!”

  1. I love the concept behind this one! What a great idea!

    Although, I wonder what it would be like if you could help out by pushing the button yourself to help meet the quota – but maybe only if you don’t get caught by Johnson’s boss?

    1. Ha! If Johnson were any good at pushing buttons, he wouldn’t have been promoted to manager. Besides, this is a management simulator, and real managers don’t help by working alongside their employees. They help by putting motivational posters in the cubicle area. You can’t see it because of the orthogonal top-down view, but the walls of the office are plastered with motivational posters.

      All joking aside, though, I’m glad you liked it!

  2. Ah, three save files. Just like the good old days.

    I suppose it’s no surprise that the best strategy seems to be working my employees to the breaking point and then just replacing them when they burn out.
    You seem to have done well here, but I’m only two days in. I’m sure when the deadline is around the corner I’ll start to feel the stress. Oh, the woes of management.

    1. I don’t want to spoil anything if you’re still early on, but I’ve waited a while, so here goes. Spoiler Alert!

      Just like in real life, the manager’s job is basically done for him by his employees, and he’ll easily meet all his goals as long as he doesn’t do something really stupid to screw it up.

      Part of the fun of designing this game was to create a situation where (just like in real life) you are tempted to be a complete jerk to your employees even though it turns out to be completely unnecessary. The game is set up so that you naturally view your employees as assets rather than people, and start thinking about how to squeeze the most work out of them for the least cost. Now, this is the way a monster would think, but it’s also very true to real-life offices.

      This is the main purpose for the multiple save files: I wanted people to play through once with their natural managerial instincts, and then play through again as not a monster. The results are the same either way: At the end of the month, the branch is a financial success, Johnson is given a raise and transferred to corporate, and the staff is laid off and replaced with robots.

      Ah, office life… Thank you for already being the dystopian future that nobody believes will ever come to pass.

      1. Okay, okay. So as an experiment, I tried going the exact opposite way with it. The first thing I did on Day 1 was run up to my desk and immediately increase everyone’s wages to $50/hr. And then I just stood there and waited. At the beginning of each day after that, I would move Button #1 to the next desk in the rotation so that it got even wear, and then I would wait. For the entire month, I never did anything else. I never looked over anyone’s shoulder; I never even set foot outside my office. I just stood next to my desk and waited for the clock to tick down.

        Now, I wasn’t sure what would happen. I didn’t program anything with this behavior in mind; the same algorithms that run the rest of the game were also at work here. But by the 12th (which is the 10th day, or halfway through the month), I had already met all my goals. I never had to fire or hire anybody. Nobody ever quit. In fact, nobody’s morale ever dropped below a full green bar. They just sat and clicked to their hearts content. And here’s the final result:

        Wow. Managers, take note.

        1. Very, very fun game.

          My first playthrough had a small team of very tenured employees. They produced very well, but burned out so quickly! I was constantly having to hire replacements.

          Second playthrough, I kept my original team and payed them like they were tenured. The production wasn’t quite as good, but I didn’t lose anyone and finished by the 15th.

          Third playthrough, I tried some serious draconian tactics: several buttons on one tenured employee, standing over new employees until they quit, firing the lowest performer every day. – I’m not sure if I’m going to make quota this time, haha.

          BTW, standing over your employees yields some serious diminishing returns! Almost like people resent being micromanaged, huh?

          1. Glad you liked it! I’m curious how your draconian file turned out. I’d wager that you succeeded (the bar is set pretty low), but not by much. I can’t figure out what would happen with the money, though. Firing can get expensive, but if you’re really horrible to your workers, you’re probably not paying them well. So will the net result be more money? Less? I don’t know what to expect. Let me know.

            As for the diminishing returns, it’s true. People click twice as fast when you’re watching them, but it destroys their morale so dramatically that “twice as fast” quickly becomes slower than when they started. So if you’re going to stand over someone’s shoulder, you really have to commit to it and stay until they quit. Because if you take a slightly slower than average worker, watch them until their morale is almost depleted, and then leave them to their business, it’s guaranteed to be a net loss. So, yeah. Not the best move, as it turns out.

            It’s interesting… Because the game I’m working on this month is so ambitious, I decided to work with a team. As team leader (read: manager), I find myself constantly struggling with this issue. I want so badly to micromanage those members of my team who appear to be doing nothing (you know who you are), but I don’t want to be a jerk. I’m trying to err on the side of hands-off, but boy is it hard to do when I’m spending virtually every waking hour (and a lot of hours where I shouldn’t be awake) working on this game, and I see them playing Steam games for hours on end every day of the week. Now, to be fair: I don’t doubt that they’ll get the work done, I just doubt they’ll do it before I have a panic attack. It really is hard being a manager. (Not as hard as being the person who’s actually doing the work, of course, but I’ve done myself the disservice of playing both those roles here.)

          2. Being Steam friends with your project manager?

            Bad JuJu. :_)

            As an update, my draconian tactics got Johnson fired. I barely cracked 600k clicks, and no button reached its quota.

            I did implement one important restriction on myself – I could not hire any “Immediately available” employees to replace a quitter *on the same day*. This is an effort to emulate real office life – nobody starts in the middle of the day.

            So I experienced a few mass walkouts and lost entire days of productivity. Johnson also got a little too interested in his golf game, and not enough in his job. (read: I got distracted doing other things and didn’t notice when some employees quit, leaving buttons unattended) Needless to say, the team wasn’t as efficient as it could have been.

            For what it’s worth, we learned a lot about different “theories” of management in school. (MIS is technically business degree at Harding, so we had to take some management classes) The main groups were Theory X and Theory Y. X is your basic jerkish, results-oriented boss. Y is your “team leader”, buddy-boss.
            As a generalization:
            X is good at getting people to do things they aren’t interested in doing, but stifles creativity and produces unhappy employees, leading to more turnover.
            Y is good at fostering creativity and hard work, but struggles getting productivity outside of the employees’ personal interests. Y managers are in danger of being door mats for their employees.

            So the holy grail is to blend the two styles appropriately for the nature of the industry(ie: Food Service – x. Graphic design – y.) and for the personalities of the employees.

            Your account of managing a team for your game is interesting. Volunteer projects by definition necessitate Y management. There’s not exactly any recourse by which an X style may derive its authority. The worst a manager can do is remove the team member from the project, which generally hurts the manager far more than the team member.
            So the manager usually finds himself reduced to wheedling and appealing to the team members’ sense of decency and camaraderie. Unless you have the means to provide effective performance incentives.

            I ran that gauntlet a few times with social club stuff in school. Not really an experience I care to repeat.

            1. It wasn’t so bad. As you can see, he did eventually get the work done. Of course, he finished less than half an hour before the deadline, but whatever. Good enough.

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